With all the views of the glittering Financial District along with the comforting flavours of different south east Asian cuisine, there’s a dearth of dishes to try at Zega’s latest food fest, the Tangra spread, aptly titled ‘Flavours from the City of Joy.’
This food fest is vastly different from last year’s Tangra food fest, which featured honey-chilli Thai lotus stems, prawn gold coins and French chicken winglets.
Chef de Cuisine Ho Chi Ming smiles when I point out how comforting the food looks. He responds, “See, when people think of Tangra, the mind recalls the relatability of the Indian-Chinese cuisine many of us grew up around. The Kolkata Chinatown connect is also very important here… but we also have to put that five-star spin of course.” And these upscale touches are subtly done through presentation and taste. My love for Zega’s crockery was elevated, if that was even possible, by the homely yet chic food styling.
Chef Ho Chi Ming, Chef de Cuisine at Zega, Sheraton Gachibowli
Eight years of solid experience under his chef’s hat is no joke and chef Ming is a living testament to great hospitality and well-balanced flavour profiles. I observe as he zips between tables, taking feedback from diners sporting a huge and sweet smile, bowing his head modestly. After all, he is a third-generation chef.
Do try the golden batter-fried prawns; they’re a classic and the succulent prawns go wonderfully with the in-house chilli sauces. Zega’s chicken lollipops are the perfect size too, not the comically large size one can never finish. Drizzled with glass noodles, there’s a fun crunch to them — a move I see being emulated by those who’d want to make this at home. Chef Ming pushes the vegetable Shanghai rolls my way, saying the fact that they’re done with a pancake should surprise you pleasantly. And he’s right.
Under any circumstances, do not miss out on the chilli garlic fish cakes. By attending this festival, if you’re a fish-eater, then you’re immediately under oath to feast on these. Doing his best to replicate a recipe of his mother’s, chef Ming says he still hasn’t gotten it quite right but we can vouch that they’re delightful. He recalls, “Growing up, we would have these at home while lounging around the house. My mother made them with such ease, and they were very addictive.” How does he feel when he sees total strangers enjoying one of his favourite throwback dishes? He chuckles and looks around once again, saying it feels both good and surreal.
Chilli garlic fish cakes
For main course, the fried rices are a dream; soft, fluffy and packed with flavour. Pair this with the manchurian or the fish curry bursting with citrus flavours and your stomach will be in great mood with you.
I’d recommend a masala Thums Up if you’re feeling super comfortable, otherwise Zega’s mixology course is worth an exploration to complement the indulgence. Be sure to keep a couple of hours aside for this fest and go at an easy pace, as chef Ming is more than ready to send you home with a very, very full belly.
As per Zega’s rates, this a la carte menu is rather reasonable, especially given the generous portion sizes.
‘Flavours from the City of Joy’ is on till October 7 at Zega in Sheraton Hyderabad for dinner.